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Pauline Shaw at In Lieu
February 27, 2021 - April 3, 2021
At In Lieu in Highland Park, Pauline Shaw’s solo exhibition, “the Blues” hones in on human dependence and over-extraction of natural resources. Pulling an array of specific examples that span America and China (where the artist split time while growing up), Shaw renders various symbols as copper sculptures and engravings that are integrated with hand-felted wool tapestries. In some works, the swirling copper shapes that are overlaid onto the wool backings have been oxidized, their bright blue pigment soaking into nearby fibers.
A focal point of the show is the subject of the horseshoe crab, the blood of which happens to be blue and is used to test vaccines and pharmaceuticals (a timely topic given the strain on the species with recent COVID-19 vaccine production). Many have speculated about the longevity of the species given our current demand. The horseshoe crab’s exoskeleton, carved in silver, hangs over a large felt work in the show (“North Star 1”) like a specter. Elsewhere, Shaw loops in silver and Pearl-Turtles, other resources that point to over-extractive colonial legacies. As a whole, Shaw’s subtle works utilize natural materials (wool, copper, oxidizing processes) to further compound our unstable relationship to the natural world, suggesting an imminent tipping point.
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Photo: Pauline Shaw, “the Blues,” installation view. Image courtesy of the artist and In Lieu.